Let's talk about muscles and fascia. Each muscle in your body is encased in a sheath of fibrous tissue called fascia. In a perfect situation, the layers of fascia allow muscles to slide easily over each other without any restriction. The layers of fascia are interconnected throughout your body, uninterrupted from head to toe, so tightness in one area can show up in other places.
However, nearly none of us live in this perfect condition. Every night, when you sleep, or even for periods of time in which you don't move for a long time (airplanes, car rides, etc), tiny fibers develop between your muscles and fascia, taking away that perfect gliding action. Hard training actually accelerates this process of this "fuzz" generation.
Gill Hedley provides a great visual to explain this phenomenon.
So why does this matter?
Well, the increased friction in your muscles means you have to work harder to get the same amount of work done. It also will hinder your flexibility, and therefore your ability to get into the proper positions and express your power effectively. After a while, it can also hurt! You know those knots you get in muscles? Those are adhesions in the myofascial tissue. Your body is a Corvette, and we need to take off these parking brakes!
So what's a brother to do?
Let me introduce you to the humble lacrosse ball. It may not look like much, but it can be a vicious enemy and admirable friend at the same time. It's like that brutally honest friend that gives you the kick in the pants you need to do what you know you should.
The lacrosse ball is a very useful tool in myofascial release, or working out the fuzz. There are many ways in which it can be used, but the generally principle is:
1. Find where you're tight
2. Stick the ball there
3. Roll around on it
4. Don't make a private face...you'll know what I mean.
By rolling around on the lacrosse ball, you are gradually breaking up adhesions in the myofascial tissues, and this will be painful, especially at first. Most people are much tighter than they know and should start slowly and somewhat gently.
Another technique that is rather useful for working on a concentrated adhesion (knot) is:
1. With the ball on the knot, contract that muscle hard for 5 seconds
2. Relax for 10 seconds
3. Repeat 6 times, or until adhesion is broken up.
Press 3 X 5
Rest 90 seconds
3 X 75% Max Rep Strict Pullups or 3 X 10 Ring Rows (Example: If your max is 20 pullups, you will attempt to do 15 for each set)
Rest 90 Seconds
3 rounds for time of:
20 Squat Jumps
20 seconds L-Sit or 30 Laying Leg Raises
10 Pullups or Ring Rows
Thoracic Spine Mobilization w/lacrosse ball(4 min per side)
Psoas Myofascial Release w/lacrosse ball(1 min per side)